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PFT lawyer worried logo will confuse readers, sends angry letter

This week, the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) demanded that Americans for Fair Treatment remove the union’s logo from a news story. Our news story explained how the union tries to politicize education and the teaching profession, making teachers’ lives more difficult in the process. We also shared a controversial statement made by the union about teaching.

The union’s attorney, Frederic Wilf, of the Ardmore-based law firm Wilftek, wrote a letter to AFFT demanding we take down the logo accompanying the news story because it “implies that the article and the PFT page are endorsed by the PFT.”

Apparently, PFT is worried teachers and other public employees—most of whom arrive at our page because they are frustrated with their unions—will think PFT endorses our article criticizing them for politicizing education.  

Our article quotes a letter the union wrote to new teachers soliciting donations to their political action committee, because, the letter says, “education is political.” The article goes on to point out that the politicization of education by the PFT, along with national teachers unions, makes life more difficult for teachers in the classroom, who are already dealing with an onslaught of challenging issues this year related to the pandemic.

But to AFFT President David Osborne, the real reason that PFT hired a “Main Line lawyer” to threaten AFFT was to harass us for supporting teachers who are unhappy with the unions and their leadership.

“Unfortunately, there’s a terrible irony here: PFT is using union dues money to go after a nonprofit with which it disagrees, reinforcing how tone deaf PFT leadership has become. Teachers have a right to be concerned about PFT’s belief that “education is political,”” said Osborne.

The union’s letter demands that AFFT remove the logo from its website or “modify” the graphic in a way that makes it clear the union does not endorse AFFT or its positions. But when asked whether anyone was confused by the article or PFT’s position on the article, Wilf was unable to point to a single person who was confused. He was also unable to suggest any additional language to prevent confusion. 

In case you were confused, we are aware—and relieved to hear—that PFT does not endorse AFFT or its news article.

Here is a copy of PFT’s letter and the logo referenced:

Suzanne Bates

Suzanne Bates is Senior Writer and Researcher with Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector workers offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2020, Suzanne worked as a journalist for the Associated Press, as Policy Director with the Yankee Institute, as a contributor for The Hartford Courant, and as a regular commentator for WNPR’s The Wheelhouse.

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